Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Bethlehem 2017 AD

Photo #1 1/8 second, F 5.6, ISO 500, Daylight Balance
This (Photo #1) is the image the Journal decided to publish for Bethlehem 2017 AD.The shot was probably chosen because there was a child present, providing more of a family friendly spin on the event. There are some technical reasons why I liked the photo. The two flash lighting allowed me to have highlights on the census taker, the scroll, and the quill pen, while an on-camera flash provided the fill lighting that would keep the details in the foreground. I didn't like the fact that the spill from the flash severely overexposed the woman in the background, but under the circumstances, that couldn't be helped. I admit it's easy to get into the "could have, would have, should have" mindset, but we don't get to make photos in a vacuum, and factors beyond our control are bound to interfere with the vision every photographer tries to create the moment before the shutter is released. The shot was good enough to submit, although I had some reservations about the overall exposure. Interestingly enough, there are no blocked highlights, and the image should have turned out better than it did.

Photo #3
Filtration: For the assignment, I had full CTO gels on both the key and fill speedlights. Two Nikon SB-800s were used, adjusted manually. The camera was a Fuji T2 with a 10-24 F 4.0 lens. Triggering was accomplished using the the SU-4 (optically triggered) mode. The photo of the mule (Photo #3) was made just for fun. folding LCD panel allowed me to make a low-angle shot between the fence slats without having to actually lie on the ground. Incidentally, the palm tree in the background was lit by a halogen spotlight placed there by the event sponsors.

I often use the Full CTOs to give the shots a warm, candle-light look. In this case, it didn't quite work, possibly because the mule's natural color (the white blaze on her face) was rendered too warm to be believable. I experimented in trying to correct the color balance in post production, but was really happy with the results. One problem with filtration - If the saturation of a any of the primary colors (red, green blue) goes "over the top", you can never recover a attractive relationship between these three primary colors.
Photo #4
Photo #4 was my personal favorite, but not something I could submit for publication. The goats in their pen are not easily recognized when seen from the rear - a small gesture of curiosity or affection by one of them could have made the photo, but alas, it was not to be. My costumed subject had a wonderful expression, but I didn't feel it was enough to carry the photo, especially when presented small in black and white, as my photos often are.

I was pleased with the two-light setup I used that evening. That bright fireball near the left edge of the photo is actually the key light, held aloft with by Cissie with a monopod. If you look at the highlight on the fence, you can see that the beam angle has been narrowed to form a spot of light centered on my subject's face. From the position at camera left, the speedlight provides a classic Rembrandt lighting, while the on-camera fill speedlight, feathered up slightly to prevent foreground overexposure, provides the necessary fill.

This is Jay, a photographer working with the event who I met last year. He too uses a Fuji XT2, but opted for the 16-55 2.8 as his main lens, one I passed on because it was too bulky and not wide enough for my taste We were experimenting with flashes, and I made this photo using my two speedlights and his flash, a Phottix I think, triggered in the optical slave mode. Since it wasn't equipped with a gel, its light is rendered impossibly blue when the camera is set to the Incandescent white balance preset.

I had considered trying to get a one of the rabbis to stand in front of the shadow cast by the menorah, but there wasn't time, space, or  (long) lens enough to make the shot come together.  I'll file this idea away for next year, and may experiment with the concept well before then.